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First Drive: 2016 Mazda Miata

Forward into the past.

by on Jun.01, 2015

The 2016 Mazda Miata picks up the basic cues of the original MX-5 without any sense of retro.

As a child of the ‘60s, I grew up in an era when anyone looking to put a little fun in their driving had really just two choices: a Detroit muscle car or a British sports car. Either way, you knew you’d be spending plenty of weekends tinkering and tweaking to keep your wheels running. Friends with a Triumph Spitfire or MGB often would have two, one serving as a parts donor.

No surprise, then, that by the late 1980s those British 2-seaters had largely vanished from our shores, leaving a gap that was unexpectedly filled by a quirky little Japanese car company named Mazda. Best known for the rotary-powered RX-7 and an assortment of little economy cars, the Hiroshima-based automaker took a bold chance on trying something completely different, dubbing its new offering the Miata.

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These days, It’s known by the slightly longer name, the MX-5 Miata, but whatever you choose to call it, our first drive in the all-new 2016 roadster brings to mind the way we described the first Miata a quarter-century ago: the best British sports car the Japanese have ever built.

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First Drive: Mazda 2

The Zoom-Zoom company’s subcompact would benefit from Skyactiv transfusion.

by on Jan.18, 2012

The Mazda 2 joins a growing list of subcompacts being sold in the U.S.

Americans have had a rather sordid history with subcompacts. For generations, automakers have built them, only to have them wither on the sales vine as fuel prices rise and then fall again, causing buyers to go back to their Hummers and other creatures of cheap fuel.

But this time could be different. Fuel prices are now about triple what they were just a dozen years ago and a growing thirst for oil around the world means prices will probably never return to such low prices.

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So subcompacts may have a chance this time. What will help is if automakers can resist the idea that small cars also have to be tinny penalty boxes. Give buyers more style, inside and out, and at least the option to get the features they want, and maybe they’ll give them a try.

The Mazda 2 is such a car. It at least makes an effort to be stylish, has tons of feature and it has the added benefit of being a Mazda, meaning that it should be endowed with the sportiest handling in its class.

So, let’s take a look.

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Mazda Sends Miata to Weight Watchers

Next-gen 2-seater expected to drop 720 pounds.

by on Jun.09, 2011

Back to basics? The next-gen Miata could lose as much as a quarter of its current weight.

Too bad they don’t let machines compete on the top-rated TV reality show, the “Biggest Loser,” because Mazda’s next-generation Miata is being put on a serious diet.

The Japanese roadster is expected to drop 720 pounds, nearly 30% of its current 2,480 mass.  In fact, Inside Line quotes Mazda sources telling it the new model will be substantially lighter than the original, 1989 Miata, which weighed in at a svelte 2,178 pounds.

Most automakers have begun targeting weight as they stare down some tough new mileages standards, which climb to 35.5 mpg in 2016 and could be nudged as high as 62 mpg by 2025.

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“Mass is the enemy of efficiency,” Eric Cahill, director of last year’s Automotive X-Prize told TheDetroitBureau.com.

But it’s also an obstacle to performance and handling, one reason the mantra of Lotus Cars founder, the late Colin Chapman, was to “simplicate and add lightness.”

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First Drive: Mazda CX-7 i SV

Base version of sexy crossover could use a bit more power.

by on Dec.21, 2010

The Mazda CX-7 now has a base model with a normally aspirated four cylinder.

From the time Mazda introduced it, the CX-7 seemed like a cool, sporty crossover, just with the wrong engine. The 2.3-liter turbocharged direct-injected four cylinder, such a wild and lusty engine in the MazdaSpeed 3 and the short-lived MazdaSpeed 6, was an odd choice for what is really a fairly big vehicle.

Fuel economy was also not a strong suit for the CX-7, which hit the market as a 2007 model. For 2010, Mazda responded to customer requests for a more fuel-efficient powertrain when it did a mild makeover of its sexy two-row crossover. Rated at 18 city and 25 highway with front-wheel drive, those numbers were hard to achieve because the little turbo seemed to have to work fairly hard to push the CX-7.

The new, base CX-7 comes with a normally aspirated 2.5-liter four cylinder. Rated at 161 horsepower and 161 lb.-ft. of torque, the new engine comes with a rating of 20/28 mpg.

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While all-wheel-drive is an option with the turbo motor, the less-powerful engine is front-wheel-drive only.

The refresh also includes mildly revised styling, inside and out, plus a revised structure and improved suspension.
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